Parallel 45N: Travel journal and other curiosities
Marcelo Moscheta

An empty highway
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

DAY ONE
September 30. Montréal

Tomorrow my project Parallel 45N begins. I’ll collect stones from the border between Canada and the United States (also known as the No Touching Zone). My plan is to cover 300 km of deforested area in 4 days of movement across the 45th parallel north. Splitting the northern hemisphere in half, the 45th parallel north marks the boundary between the province of Quebec in Canada and Vermont in the USA. My strategy is to look for a contact with the border line without being tracked by the border crossing authorities; this would give me more freedom to travel and collect.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
DAY TWO
October 01. Hereford > Lac Wallace

Starting today in Montréal and travelling to Hereford, in the southeastern corner of Quebec. Drawing a map that begins at the Connecticut River and continuing west until I reach the Saint Lawrence River. That’s the plan.
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

The act of collecting stones and transporting them to another site is perhaps one of the first signs that a civilization is no longer nomadic and has started to think about private/individual spaces in contrast to communal/public spaces. This is the moment where humans find themselves transforming their surroundings, manipulating natural elements to their own ends. Thus, private ownership is drawn; you can move a rock to make a wall; cut down a tree to make a fence; manage agricultural systems of planting, seed dispersal, and scheduled harvests. The landscape is modified not only due to large volcanoes and earthquakes, but also due to the hands of humanity, who draw their story on the planet’s surface.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

The first stones in sight today were the gravestones on The Pioneer Trail. A humble cemetery tells me about the journey of a life written in stone. Because they were here before us and will continue after us. Behind the graveyard I find a path through the woods that leads me to the No Touching Zone. And suddenly, after crossing the dense forest, an open space. To the east and to the west a huge deforested line. Straight to the horizons. I collect my first piece of border.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

Along Route 141, I was able to find some more, beside the asphalt or following a hunter’s path. I keep trying to get closer to the border between the two countries, and I finish my first day at the end of Chemin du Père-Roy, just beside Lac Wallace.

Total stones collected today: 09

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

DAY THREE
October 02. Stanhope > Graniteville

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

Stories of borders and what makes us different. Can a single line split land? People? Culture? Faith? At Stanhope I find a house split in two by a line that divides two countries. While I am taking some pictures of it, an old man pops out of the house and asks me if I want to come in and see. He tells me stories about the family that used to live on the border and how they used to run a store. That store divided the money, the cash register, and the products for the two sides. Surreal situations, for sure.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

Looking for the small chemins that spread out from the road, I cross beautiful autumn landscapes, packed with orange, red, and yellow pines covering small hills and surrounding tiny lakes.
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

The line on the ground divides the Haskell Library reading room in two. Although this building is one of the city of Stanstead’s main attractions, it almost cost me a fine or imprisonment to visit it. I mistakenly entered by the U.S. side and I didn’t pass through customs! Perhaps this is a trick played by U.S. customs to fool distracted tourist like me.
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

Travelling through the border between these two countries, I’ve quickly found out that the line that divides the land is not so evident. Sometimes there are fluid limits, imprecise milestones that trick the traveller and redesign the territory. How can a library straddle a dividing line? I discover that sometimes culture and history stand stronger than political interests.
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

After that incident, I am warned by the Canadian border patrol to take care and not cross the border without a permit. From then on, Canada Border Services Agency starts to follow my movements.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

Total stones collected today: 04

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

DAY FOUR
October 03. Lac Memphrémagog > Venise-en-Québec

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

Dead end streets are the best way to reach the border line. Most of them are private property, but the ones that aren’t offer a quick way to the line—although they are always monitored by cameras. It is intimidating working with big brother looking over you, but I continue anyway, collecting the first stones of today at the banks of Lac Memphrémagog, at the end of Chémin de Leadville.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

The Townships Trail in southern Québec becomes a festive place on Autumn weekends. Villages like Frelighsburg and Bedford offer music and wine-tasting festivals, gorgeous views of the woods and rivers, together with a historic landscape spreading over the apple farms and vineyards. Covered bridges from the nineteenth century are a charming backdrop to the stone monument of the Battle of Eccles Hill, in Pigeon Hill.
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

The hunting path I follow through the middle of the woods turns into a cul-de-sac street monitored by cameras and tracked 24/7 by Border Services. I start being followed by police cars and regularly have to provide my ID, address, and other information.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

Total stones collected today: 06

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

DAY FIVE
October 04. Venise-en-Québec > Rivière Richelieu

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

I keep collecting rocks and memories. Dragging myself along the border, bleeding the edges, removing centuries of mould from the rocks.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

At Noyan I find myself staring at a house placed on the border line. It has the number one as its address… But is it the first house of the Canadian side or the first one of the Unites States side? I start thinking about my last encounter with these border markers, these artificial structures imposing a division over a land that does not submit itself to the cartographical. A straight line going over any geographical area, a knife cutting the territory as if it were a pie, this line imposes another identity over that piece of land, turning the No Touching Zone into a Third Zone, neither Canada nor USA, but the border. The stones from the 45th parallel north don’t belong to any country; they’re stateless.
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

In 4 days I covered150 km, sneaking every possible contact with the No Touching Zone line. I decide it’s time to head back. 

Total stones collected today: 01

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

DAY SIX
October 05. Montréal

Using my friend’s house in Montreal as my outdoor studio, I clean the pieces of a border, measure them, and then classify them: 20 rocks collected over a dividing—and in many cases imaginary—line.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

When a rock is displaced from its original site, it carries an identity with it, one that tells about coming from a certain place. Despite being found at the 45th parallel north—both the approximate middle of the northern hemisphere and the border line—these rocks come from a land and a time that precedes the idea of territory itself.
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
 
Total stones collected on the expedition: 20

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

DAY SEVEN 
October 06. Montréal > Toronto

I start thinking about scale: I drove 550 km between Montréal and Québec collecting 150 km of the border along the 45th parallel north, between the Connecticut River and Rivière Richelieu.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

DAY EIGHT 
October 07. University of Toronto Art Centre

I am testing new ways of showing stones with an industrial gear puller. The claws of the puller will allow me to hang the stones over the wall and simulate the border line. A tag attached to the stones reveals the exact place they were taken from. Reference is also identity.

Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta
Photo: Marcelo Moscheta

Author bio:

Born in São José do Rio Preto, 1976, Lives and works in Campinas, Brazil.

The common thread running through Moscheta’s work is a great fascination with nature, and a willingness to travel and experience the landscape. This experience of travelling and living in diverse environments stimulated his interest in depicting the memory of a place, developing a classification procedure like that of an archaeologist questioning the boundaries of territory, geography and physics through art.

Since the start of his artistic career in 2000 he has created works and exhibitions arising out of journeys to distant places, where he collects objects from nature and reproduces them through drawing and photography, creating installations and objects.

Recent solo shows inclue 1,000 km, 10,000 years (2013) at Galeria Leme and the site-specific Contra.Céu (2010) at Morumbi’s Chapel. In 2011 he was comissioned by the 8th Biennial of Mercosul (2011), to produce work around his research on the brazilian/uruguayan border, and he participated in a residency onboard a tall ship at Spitsbergen, at the North Pole. In 2014 he participated in the Vancouver and Montevideo Biennials. In 2013, his work appeared in the book Vitamin D2, Phaidon, an anthology of contemporary drawing.

www.marcelomoscheta.art.br